Page County

USS Griswold





Destroyer Escort Vessel To Bear Name of Page County
Naval Flyer, Killed at Midway

The name of Don T. Griswold, emblazoned in American naval history for his gallantry in action “above the call of duty” against the Japs at Midway, will be carried on a sea-going vessel.

His mother, Mrs. Don Griswold, Sr., was informed this week by Frank Knox, secretary of the navy, that a naval vessel has been named in honor of Ensign Griswold, first Page county war casualty.

The navy secretary’s letter read:

“The name of Griswold has been assigned to a destroyer escort vessel in honor of your son. It gives me great pleasure to designate you as sponsor of the U S S Griswold which is scheduled to be launched at the Navy yard, Boston. Mass. May 6, 1943. The commandant of the Boston navy yard will arrange all details with you.”

It is a policy to name destroyers in honor of officers and enlisted men of the Navy or Marine Corps, secretaries of the Navy, Members of Congress, and inventors.

It is the first time, as far as is known, that a vessel has been named in honor of any person in the Clarinda vicinity.

Scored Direct Hit.

Ensign Griswold was killed in action June 4, 1942, in the Midway Sea battle, dive-bombing a Jap ship, making a direct hit, when his plane was caught in antiaircraft fire. He was the first Page county youth to sacrifice his life in World War II.

A graduate of Clarinda high school, he played on the undefeated 1934 football team, later won two letters as member of Iowa State College (present-day Iowa State University) grid squad, playing as a regular in 1940. He finished his college course in 1941 and enlisted in the navy reserve. In January, the Navy Flying Cross was posthumously awarded the local flyer.

A daughter of the Griswolds, Mrs. Marjorie Brown, lives in Boston.

Details of the launching will be sent [to] Mrs. Griswold as soon as plans are complete.

Source: The Clarinda Herald-Journal, Clarinda, Iowa, Thursday, April 01, 1943

Destroyer Escorts Named for Iowans

Washington, D.C. (UP) - Three destroyer escort ships to be launched soon by the U.S. Navy have been named in honor of Iowans who have given their lives in this war, the Navy Department announced Saturday.
The USS Sellstrom will honor the late Ensign Edward Robert Sellstrom, Rockwell City, Ia., who received the Navy Cross as a pilot on an aircraft carrier early in the war.  Sellstrom was born in 1916 at Dayton, Ia.
The second ship, the USS Bunch, will be named after the late Kenneth Cecil Bunch, aviation radioman first class, Pershing, Ia., who was killed in action last June in a diving attack on a Japanese ship.
Ensign Don T. Griswold, Clarinda, Ia., who was awarded posthumously the distinguished Flying Cross for bravery, will be honored at the naming of the third ship, the USS Griswold. Griswold was cited for his work in the battle of Midway.
Source: Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, morning edition, Sunday, April 25, 1943


A photo of the S.S. Griswold, destroyer escort named in honor of Clarinda’s first war hero, has been received by the parents of Ensign Don T. Griswold. “I know that you will be glad to hear that the Griswold has made a good record for herself,” writes a member of the boat’s original crew.

“Now that censorship has been lifted” wrote Edgar A Center, member of the original complement, to Mr. and Mrs. Don Griswold, “I can tell something of the doings of the Griswold during the past year. She has accounted for one enemy sub and two planes, and I’m sure we are all proud to have served on her.

“We spent most of the last winter running the ‘pipeline” – escorting tankers from Eniwetok to Ulithi. In the spring we did some work out of Guam, then went to Okinawa. While there we had a few tussles with suicide planes, but came out ahead, thank goodness.

“We are off the Japanese coast with a replenishing unit, awaiting orders to either go on to Tokyo or return to the States. Personally, I would rather prefer the latter after being out here over two years.”

It was in March of 1943, that Mrs. Griswold christened the D. E. in honor of her son, who had died as a navy pilot in the battle of Midway. Since that time, censorship had forbidden that the Clarinda family know the whereabouts of the Griswold, except that the name was given among those boats in the Nimitz fleet to participate in the surrender activities.

Source: The Clarinda Herald-Journal, Clarinda, Iowa, Thursday, October 25, 1945

NOTE: USS Griswold (DE-7), an Evarts-class short-hull destroyer escort, was launched in Boston Naval Shipyard on January 9, 1943, and was commissioned on April 28, 1943.
During World War II she earned a Combat Action Ribbon, American Campaign Medal, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars, and a World War II Victory Medal.

She was decommissioned on November 19, 1945, and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 5, 1945. She was sold for scrap on November 27, 1946 to Dulien Steel Products of Seattle, Washington.